Using 911 Appropriately
Generally speaking, while people are aware that they should call 911 in an emergency, they are less aware of the circumstances in which they should not call 911. This trend can be expected to continue, or possibly even grow, as 911 services become available through new communications methods, such as text messaging.
Funding & Policy
The nation’s 911 systems are deeply impacted by funding and legislative models that are based on the landline-based 911 system of 40 years ago. A coordinated effort is necessary to ensure that funding and policy concerns support upgrades to 911 technology.
Challenges for Rural 911
Rural 911 agencies may have lower population density but larger land area to cover, compared to urban or suburban 911 agencies. They often lack the resources needed for technology upgrades, equipment and training. But supporting rural PSAPs is vitally important, particularly because it may take longer for help to arrive in rural areas, and the call-taker can make an even bigger difference in the outcome of an emergency situation.
Serving the Hearing Impaired
New communications technologies such as e-mail, text, video and instant messaging have helped people with hearing or speech impairments communicate more freely than ever before. Coordination is essential to ensure that members of this group will be able to communicate with 911 via these and other new technologies in the future.
Operations & Training
Over 6,000 primary and secondary public safety answering points (PSAPs) are staffed by call-takers, dispatchers, supervisors, technical professionals and others who work together to ensure that the 911 system works.
911 as a Profession
911 professionals, often described as the “first first responder,” have special training to help callers in emergencies by gathering essential information from callers, sending the right kind of help to the right location, and in some cases, by giving instructions until help arrives at the caller’s location. They must be calm under pressure and able to take control of often-unpredictable situations.
Standards for Next Generation 911
Moving to a next generation 911 system in an efficient and cost-effective manner will require coordination of standards and technology. The use of common standards is necessary for 911 public safety answering points (PSAPs) to communicate and allows them to transfer and share data - even among geographically dispersed PSAPs and other emergency response agencies.